Dutch trial seeks justice for MH17 families

THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Netherlands will put four people on trial next week over the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, giving families hope of justice even if the suspects are not in the dock.

For more than five years relatives have called for the prosecution of those responsible for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with the loss of all 298 men, women and children on board.

The jet travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was torn apart by a Russian-made missile over part of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Moscow rebels, spreading bodies and debris over a wide area.

A Dutch-led international probe last year made its first charges in the case, accusing Russians Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko of involvement.

None is expected to be at the high-security court near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Monday, but family members will be out in force for the start of what is expected to be a year-long trial.

“For the next of kin this is a very important moment,” said Piet Ploeg, head of a foundation for MH17 victims who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew on the doomed flight.

“We will hear what happened, why it happened, what was the role of the Russian state. I hope, I am convinced, we will get all the answers that we have not had for five-and-a-half years,” he told AFP.

Ploeg, who said he will attend every day of the trial, added, “It’s a shame that the four suspects are having a good time and parties in Russia, but we can’t do anything about it, they won’t be extradited. It’s a fact that we will have to deal with.”